First ride back


Once we got home from France I opened my email to a message from Warren suggesting a Saturday morning ride. This was on Friday and I was so tired I pretty much lay around all day. A big day’s driving the day before and a week or so of not sleeping well had well and truly caught up with me.

As much as I knew it was a good idea to get out I wasn’t feeling like it at all. I was talked around of course and made my energy drinks up the night before and hoped that my bike had dried out after about three hours on top of the car in the rain on the way back to France.

In the end I was first to our Chiddingstone meeting point. It was one of those days that you just feel tired from when you wake up and from the first few metres on the road, I knew it was going to be challenging. All things considered the legs started out not too badly. I felt about 70-80%.

Warren turned up next and we chatted away catching up waiting for Malcolm who was unusually late. Malcolm eventually arrived apologising for a puncture delaying him. As we were debating which way we were going to ride we were surprised by the unexpected appearance of Dave who had joined us on a previous ride. He was on his way back but it was good to see him again and hopefully will join us again soon.

There was some talk of challenging hills which made me nervous given I wasn’t feeling especially strong, so I was a bit nervous when we started heading back towards Westerham after looping round and through Dormansland via Cowden.

As we rode through Edenbridge, Warren had a near miss as a driver in BMW decided to ignore the sign that gave us the right of way and didn’t even lift let alone give way… it was about 6 inches in the end. Sadly I didn’t catch all of the number plate as I was watching to see if the collision was avoided.

After riding on virtually empty roads in France where the only beeping was when I had failed to give way – this was all part of the rude awakening of being back in the South East of England. As well as BMW driving idiots, we were riding under the Gatwick flight path and through plenty of Saturday traffic on four wheels, two wheels and four legs as we went through a horse riding event as well at one point.

Sure enough there was a hill beckoning – Crockham Hill. I’d not ridden it before and Malcolm kindly explained that it had a kick. I was already nearly in my lowest gear at the beginning (feeling tired still!) and Warren and Malcolm shot off ahead and dropped me immediately.  I concentrated on getting a rhythm Carlos Sastre style. Warren disappeared into the distance as he does on most climbs with Malcolm in pursuit. About half way up Malcolm started to come back towards me as I had managed to find a rhythm and seemed to be getting faster. I passed Malcolm and started to close on Warren but I could see he’d slowed towards the top.

From there it was down to Brasted for a cafe stop, which I certainly needed. A cappuccino and a Panini revived me somewhat and I felt better on the ride back. We went up Hosey Hill and down past Chartwell and a big line of traffic waiting to visit Winston Churchill’s old house. It was just Malcolm and I by this stage and we rode back down and through Chiddingstone.

I said farewell to Malcolm just out of Fordcombe where I battled up the hill reassured by the knowledge that it was pretty flat from there home.

Having felt tired at the start of the ride- I felt very tired by the end and was glad to climb off the bike.

Total Distance 82.49km.

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